‘Oh, Danny Boy’: Lyrics and History of Ireland’s Beloved Song

Updated On: September 12, 2023

Danny Boy

A popular song that is the epitome of Irish culture, Danny Boy is a ballad with an ancient Irish melody. It is a song that took many years and plenty of chance to create; starting in Ireland as an instrumental tune and finding its way to America alongside Irish emigrants only to be sent back to England to a lawyer who had been searching for the perfect music to accompany the lyrics he had penned two years previously. The story of Danny Boy is a truly fascinating journey any music lover should learn about.

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From glen to glen, and down the mountainside,

The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling,

It’s you, it’s you must go and I must bide..”

– Frederick E. Weatherly

Despite the lyrics being penned by an Englishman, Danny Boy is associated with Irish culture and communities. The tune is taken from the ‘Londonderry Air’, a folk song collected by Jane Ross of Limavady.

Arguably one of the most famous of all Irish songs, Danny Boy has become culturally symbolic for those in the Irish diaspora. For years, the meaning of Danny Boy has been heavily debated, with multiple narratives developed to reflect individual circumstances.

Regardless of Danny Boy’s meaning, the song has been covered by famous artists from all over the globe. Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Celtic Woman, and Daniel O’ Donnell are only a few of the artists who continue to popularise this nostalgic Irish melody.

Danny Boy
O’ Danny Boy Song Cover -An Old Irish Air- by Fred E Weatherly

Below we have created a fully comprehensive guide of Danny Boy; it lyrics, origin, creators, its many versions and much more!

Why not jump straight ahead to the section you’re looking for:

O Danny Boy Lyrics (Also Known as Oh Danny Boy Lyrics)

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From glen to glen, and down the mountainside,

The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling,

It’s you, it’s you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow,

Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow,

And I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow,

Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so!

But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,

And I am dead, as dead, I well maybe,

Ye’ll come and find the place where I am lying,

And kneel and say an “Avé” there for me;

And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,

And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,

For you will bend and tell me that you love me,

and I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!

– Frederick E. Weatherly

‘The Pipes Are Calling’: The Inspiration for Danny Boy

The origins of Danny Boy’s lyrics lie in the most surprising of places, namely an English lawyer. Frederic Weatherly was a famed lyricist and broadcaster who wrote the lyrics to Danny Boy in Bath, Somerset, in 1913. It is estimated that he wrote the lyrics to over 3000 songs before his death. Weatherly was inspired to pen Danny Boy after his Irish-born, sister-in-law Margaret sent him a copy of ‘Londonderry Air’ from the United States.

An Irish tune that had humble origins from a small town in Ireland was being played on an international stage in the state of Colorado. On hearing this haunting sound, Margaret immediately went and found out its origins before sending it straight to her brother-in-law. This prompted Weatherly to change the lyrics of Danny Boy to fit the tune of ‘Londonderry Air’.

Hoping for it to gain popularity, Weatherly gave the Danny Boy song to the vocalist Elsie Griffin who succeeded in making it one of the most popular songs of the era. She was deployed to entertain the British troops fighting in World War One in France.

Due to its increasing popularity, it was decided that a recording would be made of Danny Boy. Ernestine Schumann-Heink produced the very first recording of Danny Boy in 1918. The original version of the song had four verses, but two more were added later and thus most recordings have six verses performed.

It is noted by historians that Londonderry Air was recorded by Jane Ross in Limavady. According to legend, a blind fiddler called Jimmy McCurry would sit on the Limavady streets and play delightful songs as a means of gathering coppers. Living in the local workhouse, he played local and Irish traditional ballads.

On one occasion, McCurry set up his playing space for the day opposite Jane Ross’ home. He played a particular tune that caught her attention. Noting down the infamous tune, she had collected a great number of Irish traditional songs and passed them to George Petrie, who published Londonderry Air in 1855 in a music book called “Ancient Music of Ireland”. Sadly Jane did not note the fiddler’s name who remains anonymous despite creating such a recognisable melody. Other sources claim the fiddlers name was Jim McCurry however.

Danny Boy
Limavady Main Street where Danny Boy’s tune was first heard. (Source: roevalley.com)

Fast forward to 1912 in the United States in, where Margaret Weatherly, a Colorado resident, hears a delightful tune and requests to send to someone she regarded as a skilled poet. Margaret sent the copy of the tune to her brother-in-law, a lawyer by trade and a wordsmith in his spare time. Knowing he will create something grand out of it, she requests he writes lyrics to the tune.

It is unknown how Maragaret came about the tune itself. However, it is believed that she had possibly heard it from Irish emigrants leaving Ireland for the New World or from her father, another passionate fiddle player. 

The lawyer and lyricist Fred Weatherly hailed from Somerset. Passionate about music, Weatherly wrote lyrics in his spare time between court cases. Having already written the lyrics to Danny Boy, he heard the tune of the Londonderry Air and manipulated his words around the song itself. Thus, Danny Boy was birthed into the loved song that it is today. 

The History of Danny Boy

While the modern origins of the song have originated in Limavady, it is believed that its ancient roots are tied elsewhere. The air itself was used in Aisling an Oigfir, a tune attributed to Ruadhrai Dall O’Cathain. This was then collected by Edward Bunting and arranged for the harp playing of Denis Hempson in Magilligan at the 1792 Belfast Harp Festival. Stendhal Festival also takes place on the outskirts of town hosting music and comedy, further honoring the towns longstanding love of music.

Recognising the incredible connection to the town, Limavady has erected numerous statues and plaques throughout the area to commemorate its humble links to the Danny Boy song itself. Every year, the Danny Boy Festival is hosted in the town with the butcher even making bespoke ‘Danny Boy Sausages’ for the visitors. 

Despite the heavy Irish connection, Fredric Weatherly never visited Ireland to learn its history or pay homage to its ancestry. According to Fredric Weatherly’s great-grandson, Margaret Weatherly, who was, of course, the reason that Fredric became acquainted with the song, was never acknowledged for her role in the song’s creation and died penniless in the United States. A tragic end to a figure who brought one of the most recognisable songs into the public domain. 

Who Wrote the Danny Boy Song? 

The Danny Boy song has become one of the most well-known and received pieces of music in existence. It was written by Fredric Weatherly, who became a respected composer and writer throughout the United Kingdom, penning some two thousand songs throughout his career.

Danny Boy
Who wrote Danny Boy? Danny Boy composer, Frederic Weatherly (Photo Source Wikipedia Commons)

Despite not being considered a poet in University -having lost out to the Newdigate Prize twice – it seems that Weatherly developed into a considerable talent. Encouraged as a child to follow his love of music and verse, his mother taught him piano and spent hours crafting songs with him. 

While all these accomplishments are admirable, Fredric Weatherly was not a full-time lyricist. He read law and qualified as a barrister in London marking a successful legal career on top of his artistic endeavours. The Danny Boy song is not Weatherly’s only well-known work. He also penned ‘The Holy City’, and the wartime song ‘Roses of Picardy’, both were met with critical acclaim.

Danny Boy Music Sheet:

Danny Boy
O’ Danny Boy-History song lyrics-oh Danny boy music (Photo Source: 8Notes)

Attached below is a Danny Boy piano lesson we found to be really helpful for beginners!

Danny Boy Piano Lesson

Meaning Behind Oh Danny Boy Song

When the song of Danny Boy or Oh, Danny Boy is broken down, it is a ballad of beauty and pain. An incredibly popular song, it is a favourite of many and has become one of the most recognisable melodies of all time. 

The first line recounts “The pipes, the pipes are calling” which are about the bagpipes being played. This was often seen as a call to arms in Celtic battalions of the British Army and would have been a common sound for those who knew the war was coming. 

By the third line “Summer is gone, and all the roses are falling”, the darkening tone continues. Many are aware of the loss of life that these wars bring and, indeed, the inevitability of death. Time and life are passing by and there is no control over them. It is a nostalgic feeling.

Spring and Summer are often seen as metaphors for childhood and youth, with Autumn representing maturity and Winter a symbol death when we compare the cycle of life and seasons. Summer ending in the song could represent a parent watching their adult child emigrate as was common in Ireland. A bittersweet moment as the child leaves the safety of their family and home in pursuit of a better life.

Danny Boy
Ellis Island, the first sight Irish emigrants arriving to America would see. Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

Another line of the song is “Tis you, tis you, must go and I must bide” which could be suggesting that two people are being forced apart. It doesn’t give us any indication as to what’s going to happen next, but there is an uncertainty of how things will end; be it emigration or war.

The Danny Boy lyrics are challenging and thought-provoking, creating a sense of pain and loss, muddled with the acceptance that this is a part of life. It has tones of melancholy and finding strength in pain interwining to create a poignant farewell. 

There have been multiple interpretations of the true meaning behind the song of Danny Boy with lots of different histories dictating their results. One interpretation is that of a son being sent off to war and the parent lamenting this reality.

It seems this interpretation foreshadows the writer’s biography, as Fred Weatherly’s son Danny joined the RAF during the First World War and was subsequently killed in action. While other ideas are accounted to the true meaning of the lyrics, it would appear that this interpretation holds to the lyricist’s biography. 

A beloved song across the world, Danny Boy is considered the unofficial anthem of Irish-Americans and Irish-Canadians. Since it is commonly sung at funerals and memorial services, Danny Boy is a song that is associated with loved ones and emotional situations.

This, in turn, creates a deeper meaning for most who hear it, cherishing it in a form of nostalgia. This same popularity is why it is considered ‘the funeral song’ as people request it as their last ballad at the refrain of their own lives. 

What makes the song so popular, and so special, is the fact that it is open to interpretation. Its a balad that evokes passionate emotion and should have different meanings to different people. We all experience the loss of someone we love at some point in our life, but to us the experience is entirely unique, just like the song.

Oh, Danny Boy Song with Chords:

Danny Boy
Danny Boy song cords – Sheet music for Danny Boy with lyrics

Have a guitar on hand? Why not follow along to this excellent guitar lesson!

Danny Boy Guitar Lesson

Danny Boy Song: A Song for Funerals

Danny boy has become a song regularly played at funerals and wakes. Its haunting melody and sense of returning home have made it a tune usually picked by the deceased to be played at the funeral itself. Representing love and loss, the song is fitting for the passing of a loved one and has become a great comfort to those who hear it as well.

The Danny Boy song was famously played at the funerals of Princess Diana and Elvis Presley. Presley, who had a real affinity with it, believed that “Danny Boy was written by angels” and promptly requested that it be one of the songs played at his funeral. 

After the death of Senator and Presidential nominee, John McCain, his funeral was held on the 2nd September 2018. Award-winning opera singer, Renee Fleming, performed his requested song Danny Boy for McCain’s mourners. It was a song McCain had enjoyed listening to as he sat on the porch of his Arizona cabin. It is seen as a nod to his Irish routes.

A universally loved folk song, it is easy to grasp why it has risen in popularity as a funeral song, competing with other cult classic songs like Amazing Grace and Ave Maria. Even as it is used so much in liturgical spaces, it still stands out amongst the other hymns and songs played. 

Danny Boy’s lyrics are steeped in a variety of themes: separation, loss, and eventual peace. These themes frame the lyrics of the work and make it wholly relatable to those who are listening. The core theme delves into the idea of someone’s pain at the loss of a loved one and how they cope with it.

The tempo that the song dictates is also perfectly suited to a funeral; sombre and demure, a slow and gentle grieving. The song was also played at the funeral of American President John F Kennedy.

The lyrics to Danny Boy, according to Fred Weatherly’s great-grandson Anthony Mann, were written in a time of great struggle for Weatherly. Fred Weatherly’s father and son died within three months of each other. The song was conceived with the notion of a woman mourning a man who had been a loss. It becomes even more poignant on the realisation that the song’s pain stems from Fred Weatherly’s own loss.

The ideas of loss and reunion after death had a deeper meaning to the Irish at the time. Due to mass emigration, people were leaving their loved ones on the island of Ireland, never to see them again. The island was still reeling from the effects of the famine, and there was little opportunity available for younger generations.

Each community in Ireland also had ideas of what it meant to them. People who were raised in the nationalist persuasion believed that the Danny Boy song was about someone grieving over fighting for the cause of independence against the British. Unionist households saw it as a call to arms for the British Army. Anthony Mann delves into these thoughts in his book “In Sunshine and In Shadow”, the story behind Danny Boy.

 The Story Behind the Song Danny Boy:

A breathtaking visual experience, the below video provides a short history of the song Danny Boy.

The Story Behind The Song Danny Boy

What Was Fred Weatherly Thinking As He Wrote Danny Boy?

Writing a ballad of this acclaim is a difficult task and primary knowledge is always an important part of understanding a song. Below are Fred Weatherly’s own words on the writing process of Danny Boy.

“In 1912 a sister-in-law in America sent me “The Londonderry Air”. I had never heard the melody or even heard of it. By some strange oversight, Moore had never put words to it, and at the time I received the MS. I did not know that anyone else had done so. It so happened that I had written in March of 1910 a song called “Danny Boy,” and re-written it in 1911.

By lucky chance, it only required a few alterations to make it fit that beautiful melody. After my song had been accepted by a publisher I got to know that Alfred Percival Graves had written two sets of words to the same melody, “Emer’s Farewell” and “Erin’s Apple-blossom,” and I wrote to tell him what I had done.

He took up a strange attitude and said that there was no reason why I should not write a new set of words to the “Minstrel Boy,” but he did not suppose I should do so! The answer, of course, is that Moore’s words, “The Minstrel Boy” are so “perfect a fit” to the melody that I certainly should not try to compete with Moore.

But beautiful as Grave’s words are, they do not to my fancy suit the Londonderry air. They seem to have none of the human interest which the melody demands. I am afraid my old friend Graves did not take my explanation in the spirit which I hoped from the author of those splendid words, “Father o’ Flynn.”

More on The Writing Process of the Danny Boy Song

Weatherly continued – “Danny Boy” is accepted as an accomplished fact and is sung all over the world by Sinn Feiners and Ulstermen alike, by English as well as Irish, in America as well as in the homeland, and I am certain “Father o’ Flynn” is equally popular, as it deserves to be, and its author need have no fear that I shall be so foolish as to write a new version of that song….

It will be seen that there is nothing of the rebel song in it and no note of bloodshed. “Rory Darlin'” on the other hand is a rebel song. It has been set sympathetically by Hope Temple. No doubt if Sir William Hardman were alive, he would forbid it being sung at Surrey Sessions mess.”

Danny Boy
Danny Boy Artwork: A Father watching his child set sail on a ship leaving the shores of Ireland

A Summary of the Creation of Danny Boy

While the modern origins of the song have originated in Limavady, it is believed that its ancient roots are tied elsewhere. The air itself was used in ‘Aisling an Oigfir’, a tune attributed to Ruadhrai Dall O’Cathain. This was then collected by Edward Bunting and arranged for the harp playing of Denis Hempson in Magilligan at the 1792 Belfast Harp Festival.

According to legend, a blind fiddler called Jimmy McCurry would sit on the Limavady streets and play delightful songs as a means of gathering coppers. On one occasion, McCurry set up his playing space for the day opposite Jane Ross’ home. He played a particular tune that caught her attention. Noting down the infamous tune, she sent it to George Petrie, who then published ‘Londonderry Air’ in 1855 in a music book called “Ancient Music of Ireland”. 

Danny Boy
Jim McCurry, the blind fiddler who played ‘Londonderry Air’

Frederick Weatherly was inspired to pen Danny Boy after his Irish-born, sister-in-law Margaret sent him a copy of ‘Londonderry Air’ from the United States. The lyrics had been created two years previously, but ‘Londonderry Air’ was the first tune to truly be a perfect compliment of the lyrics.

It is fascinating to see how many people were involved in creating the song we love so dearly, and how easily it could have never been created, if for example Jane Ross did not hear Jimmy McCurry play the tune, or if Weatherly’s sister had not sent him ‘Londonderry Air’. What are the chances!

Famous Singers Who Covered Danny Boy

Danny Boy is a tune that has influenced the world for a significant period. Naturally, it makes sense that there have been multiple renditions of the stirring ballad by singers from a variety of backgrounds and grounds.

Over the last century, Danny Boy has been covered by numerous famous artists, including Mario Lanza, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Shane MacGowan, Christy Moore, Sinead O’Connor, The Dubliners Jackie Wilson, Judy Gardland, Daniel O’Donnell, Harry Belafonte, Tom Jones, John Gary, Jacob Collier, and Harry Connick Jr, amongst others. Some of our favourites are listed below.

Mario Lanza singing Danny Boy

A flawless rendition of Danny Boy from Mario Lanza, the Hollywood star and famous American tenor.

Johnny Cash Singing Danny Boy

The bad boy of country, Johnny Cash sings an incredible version of Danny Boy. Cash was obsessed with his Celtic roots and took great joy in singing this mournful ballad. 

Danny Boy – Johnny Cash

Elvis Presley Singing Danny Boy

He once described this song as “written by angels”, the King himself had this song played at his funeral. An incredible crooner, Elvis Presley delivers his spiritual interpretation of the song. 

Elvis Presley – Oh Danny Boy (1976)

Celtic Woman Singing Danny Boy

The music ensemble, Celtic Woman has a version of Danny Boy that has almost come synonymous with the song itself.  Taking their roots in Riverdance, Celtic Woman is a perfect reflection of Irish culture for the masses and they do a riveting performance of the Danny Boy song.

Celtic Woman – Danny Boy

Daniel O’Donnell Singing Danny Boy

The song master from Donegal, a beloved singer who has become a household name in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Daniel O’Donnell brings his influences of country and Irish folk to his rendition of Danny Boy.

Daniel O’Donnell – Danny Boy

Irish Tenors Singing Danny Boy

After being established in 1998, The Irish Tenors have become a popular fixture on the classical circuit. Bringing a refined version of the lyric to life, The Irish Tenors provide a spectacular performance of the lament.

Sinead O’ Connor Singing Danny Boy

A song of this calibre has naturally influenced other songs and writers to create incredible ballads and tunes that are famous in their own right. One such song that has garnered a lot of fame is ‘You Raise Me Up’. Popularised by Josh Groban, the song was supposedly influenced by the Irish classic. 

Danny Boy In Contemporary Pop Culture

Not content with simply inspiring countless songs, Danny Boy has been featured in several films and television shows. The Simpsons, 30 Rock, Futurama, Modern Family, The Lego Movie, Iron Fist, Memphis Belle, and When Calls the Heart have all shared a version of the beloved song on their screens. 

The song itself has become deeply ingrained in Irish culture. In the London 2012 Olympics, Danny Boy was used as the song to represent Northern Ireland in the opening ceremony. Its deep links to Limavady in the North Coast of the isle served it well as a representation for the people of Northern Ireland. Regardless of whether you are from the North or South of the Island, Danny Boy serves as an anthem for all who sing it and derive meaning from it. 

Its tremendous reputation has seen it featured in many acclaimed films. From the Lego Movie to chat show hosts, Danny Boy has been sung in many mixed-mediums. Liam Neeson famously sang the Danny Boy song to Peter Travers and later explains why the song holds a special meaning to him and many other Irish people:

The Original Londonderry Air Song:

When hearing the tune of the Londonderry Air, it is impossible to not recognise the similarities between it and Danny Boy. The lyrics are indeed different but, due to the popularity of Danny Boy, it is hard to differentiate between the tunes.

Would God I were the tender apple blossom,

That floats and falls from off the twisted bough,

To lie and faint within your silken bosom,

Within your silken bosom as that does now.

Or would I were a little burnish’d apple

For you to pluck me, gliding by so cold

While sun and shade you robe of lawn will dapple

Your robe of lawn, and you hair’s spun gold.

Yea, would to God I were among the roses,

That lean to kiss you as you float between,

While on the lowest branch a bud uncloses,

A bud uncloses, to touch you, queen.

Nay, since you will not love, would I were growing,

A happy daisy, in the garden path,

That so your silver foot might press me going,

Might press me going even unto death.

– Londonderry Air Lyrics

Songs Reminiscent of Danny Boy:

Celtic Woman sings ‘You Raise Me Up’, a song that is directly influenced by Danny Boy and its melody.

Celtic Woman – You Raise Me Up

Celtic Women – Amazing Grace

‘Amazing Grace’ is a spiritual song sung regularly in services and funerals to this day. It has the same type of cultural impact as the song Danny Boy. Click here to learn all about Amazing Grace!

Celtic Woman – Amazing Grace

Hozier – The Parting Glass

A traditional Scottish song, ‘The Parting Glass’ shares the same sentiment of the emotional act of leaving loved ones behind as Danny Boy, although this song focuses on offering a guest one last drink before they leave. The song is very popular in Ireland and has been sang by many Irish men and women for generations.

Listen to Andrew Hozier-Byrne or Hozier as he is more commonly known preform a mesmerizing version of the song below.

Conclusion of the Much Loved Danny Boy Song

Danny Boy has become a hugely popular part of Irish Culture and it can be guaranteed that everyone has their own meaning for the song. It seems ironic considering the lyrics were written by an Englishman, that the song is considering an Irish ballad. Regardless, people take great pride in the emotion of the song and playing it for others. 

The song stands the test of time due to its relatability – everyone has experienced some form of loss before. Though, as the song leads us to believe, there will always be the possibility of being reunited with our loved ones one day. It is this comfort that has allowed it to become an incredibly popular song.

The arts form a huge part of Irish culture and have deep-rooted traditions. Some of these traditions are reflected in Irish ballads and exert the idea of the nation’s emotions and, at times, tragic circumstances. It is these sorrowful laments that have managed to find their way into songs and stories all over the world. As the Irish emigrated to the New World, so did their talents and cultural gifts, and they continue to influence the modern arts globally to this day. 

Danny Boy is a song that holds significant meaning to different listeners. Everyone has some form of interpretation of the song and has been deeply affected by it in some way. Whether you are a purist and believe that is a biographical piece, that the lyrics were written about the loss of Fredric Weatherly’s son Danny in World War One or perhaps you believe it is about emigration. Regardless, the influence that Danny Boy has created on people is astounding. 

One person who was affected by Oh, Danny Boy is the boxing champion, Barry McGuigan. Born in Clones, Ireland, McGuigan caused controversy during a turbulent time in Northern Ireland – despite being Catholic, he married a Protestant wmoan, which was controversial at the time. His father united every crowd on the island though by singing Danny Boy before McGuigan boxed – everyone in the crowd joined in. 

Danny Boy has the power to transcend divides in any community; regardless of our religion, political party or role in society we can all relate to losing a loved one be it through death, emigration or war. we all share the same sentiment and hope that we will be reunited again in the future.

Have you enjoyed learning about one of the most iconic Irish folk songs of all time? If so, why not learn more about traditional Irish culture, from our fast-paced sports, to our lively music and dance and even our favorite foods and festivals.

Frequently Asked Questions – Danny Boy Song

Is Danny Boy Irish or Scottish?

Frederic Weatherly, an Englishman was sent the song The Londonderry Air, where he changed the song lyrics to the now world-famous Oh Danny Boy. A blind fiddler in Limavady played the Londonderry Air which was recorded and sent to Weatherly who added its new words.

When was the song Danny Boy written?/ Who wrote Danny Boy?

Frederic Weatherly wrote the words to Danny Boy in 1910 and added them to the Londonderry Air in 1912.

Who sang the original version of Danny Boy?

It was the vocalist Elsie Griffin who made the song one of the most popular songs of the era as she entertained British troops in France during WWI. The very first recording of Danny Boy was produced in 1918 by Ernestine Schumann-Heink.

Is Londonderry Air the same as Danny Boy?

In summary, ‘Londonderry Air’ is the instrumental composition or tune that you hear in Danny Boy which also includes lyrics.

Is Danny Boy a funeral song?

Due to its Irish air and sad words on loss, family, and reunion, it has become a popular song to play at funerals and is often sung at Irish funerals by family members. It is associated with very hard times in Ireland with emigration and war, carrying the theme of love and loss around the world.

What is Danny Boy about? / What is the meaning of Danny Boy?

A common question is “what is the song danny boy about?”, the song is open to interpretation, however there are more than a few plausible theories. One is that the song encapsulates Irish emigration or diaspora, others claim it is a parent speaking to their son who is at war, while more say it is about the Irish rebellion.

What is the meaning of the name Danny?

The name Daniel comes from the Hebrew word “daniy’ el” which translates as “God is my judge.” It is a name that comes from the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament. Danny is a popular nickname for the name Danny and the name has been popular in English speaking countries over the last 500 years.

Who composed the Londonderry Air?

It is believed that the Londonderry Air was recorded by Jane Ross in Limavady when a blind fiddler called Jimmy McCurry (1830-1910) who lived in the local workhouse at the time, played the song opposite her home. She passed the music to George Petrie who published the air in 1855 in a book called “Ancient Music of Ireland”. It is a traditional Irish song that can be traced back to 1796.

Who is the best singer of Danny Boy?

There are many beautiful renditions of Danny boy, from the original Elsie Griffins version, to the iconic versions by Mario Lanza, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, and Judy Gardland. More covers include Shane MacGowan, Sinead O’Connor, Jackie Wilson, Daniel O’Donnell, Harry Belafonte, Tom Jones, John Gary, Jacob Collier, and Harry Connick Jr, amongst others.

A Song of History: Danny Boy

Danny Boy has a fascinating and incredible history. Countless artists have ambled at the chance of playing it and putting their spin on the song. Songs like ‘You Raise Me Up’ have been written because they have great influence and they have featured in multiple films and television series. 

Danny Boy’s hometown of Limavady now has an award-winning, annual music festival, Stendhal. A musical culture that continues to grow even now. A song that everyone has a story about – Danny Boy. 

Interested in more about Irelandtraditional Irish music or more Irish famous songs?

One comment on “‘Oh, Danny Boy’: Lyrics and History of Ireland’s Beloved Song

  1. When I visit my first love’s grave, she died aged just sweet 16, I sit by her and talk about what’s been happening in my life. She died over 40 years ago, yet I still cherish my memories of her.

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